Pro-Immigrant Republicans React to AZ Election Results: AZ Turning Purple!

Phoenix, Arizona – National pro-immigration GOP group Cafe Con Leche Republicans today reacted to Arizona’s election results.

Nationally, the election results show the Republican Party needs to fundamentally change the way the GOP engages with Hispanics, who overwhelmingly voted for Obama, especially the tone on immigration. According to a Pew Research polls, 62% of Hispanics are center-right ideologically, yet Mitt Romney received 23%, barely one third of that. Just eight years ago President Bush received over 40% of the Hispanic vote.

Mitt Romney received bad advice and focused messaging to Hispanics on the economy and largely ignored immigration. However, as Marco Rubio said “It’s very hard to make the economic argument to people who think you want to deport their grandmother.

In 1994 California Gov. Pete Wilson jumped on the anti-illegal immigration Proposition 187 bandwagon to bolster his flagging reelection poll numbers. Proposition 187 drove legions of conservative Hispanics from the GOP, and the GOP has not been competitive in statewide races in California ever since.

Arizona has been the scene of some of the harshest rhetoric on immigration, and this week’s election results show many Arizonans, especially Hispanics, reject extremism on immigration, and while they want secure borders, they also want practical and humane solutions to our broken immigration system.

For a ‘deep red’ state, this week’s results show that extremism on immigration is hurting the Republican Party in Arizona. Normally Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats are ‘safe’ for Republicans because Arizona is a very conservative state, but Jeff Flake received a bare majority, just 50.01%, in his U.S. Senate race against a Democratic candidate with considerable personal baggage.

It is rare for Libertarian candidates anywhere to receive more than 1% of the vote, but in Arizona many Libertarian candidates received well over 1% in competitive three-way races, while the Libertarian presidential candidate received 1.29% in Arizona versus 0.9% nationally. Here are the Libertarian Party unofficial results in competitive three-way races in Arizona from the Arizona Secretary of State web site:

U.S. Senate 4.38%
Congressional District 1 – 5.88% (Republican Jonathon Paton lost to Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, 48.49% – 45.54% due to Libertarian vote)
Congressional District 3 – 4.37%
Congressional District 4 – 3.7%
Congressional District 6 – 3.29%
Congressional District 9 – 6.35% (Republican Vernon Parker lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, 47.81% – 45.71% due to Libertarian vote)
Legislative District 8 Senator – 4.9% (Republican Joe Ortiz lost to Democrat Barbara McGuire, 48.68% – 46.32% due to Libertarian vote)

Libertarian party values and positions are much closer to conservatives than liberals, and it is apparent many conservatives voted Libertarian in protest against the Arizona GOP’s heavy tilt into extremism in recent years. In Congressional districts one and nine, and senator from LD 8, it is apparent the Libertarian candidate siphoned enough votes away from the GOP candidate that the Democrat won the election!

It would be easy to attribute the Libertarian protest vote to other reasons, but in the 2010 election Libertarian Andrea Garcia won 9% of the vote against Russell Pearce, one of Arizona’s most notorious immigration extremists, the second highest ever for any Libertarian candidate in a competitive three-way race. Andrea Garcia was a GOP activist for many years, before moving to Mesa and finding an unwelcome climate in the GOP there, and switching to Libertarian.

Another Republican activist for many years, Blanca Guerra, left the GOP and ran as a Libertarian, in large measure due to the hostility she encountered. Blanca was one of Cafe Con Leche Republican’s founding members, and initially ran as a GOP candidate for CD 3 before leaving the GOP (and Cafe Con Leche Republicans) to run as a Libertarian. In reviewing election results for CD 3 over a period of years shows candidates with more extreme views on immigration lose by larger margins.

A welcome exception to Arizona’s trend towards purple is Bob Worsley’s election as Senator in LD 25. Bob Worsley is a conservative Mormon, who has been pastor in a predominately Hispanic Church, spent years overseas as a missionary in Latin America, and has sensible views on immigration and understands immigration and Hispanics. Not surprisingly, he won handily against his Democratic opponent, and also handily defeated Russell Pearce in the GOP primary.

It’s time for a wave of change in the Arizona GOP. Arizona is clearly turning purple, and a high percentage of Hispanics, Arizona’s fastest growing demographic is voting Democrat, despite generally conservative values. We’ve lately heard rumors that Russell Pearce may become Arizona’s next state chairman. In our opinion, electing Russell Pearce as Arizona GOP Chairman would be catastrophic for the GOP. If anything Pearce should step down as First Vice-Chair, as he is one of the most polarizing figures in Arizona politics today. It’s time to return the Arizona GOP to the Party of Lincoln, following Reagan’s “big tent” model rather than shrinking the GOP base into something more of a ‘pup tent.’

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About Us – Cafe Con Leche Republicans is a national organization of Republicans who welcome “New Americans”, defined as immigrants and family of recent immigrants. Our mission is to make America and the GOP, more welcoming to “New Immigrants” through political activism, “in-reach” and education within the Republican Party, and lobbying government to adopt more immigrant friendly policies. We also seek to bring more conservative and moderate “New Americans” to the Republican Party. These efforts will strengthen the GOP, and lead more Republicans to embrace welcoming policies for immigrants and their families. We have members nationwide, with chapters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. Our members and leadership are predominantly Hispanic, though we define ourselves by mission and guiding principles, not ethnicity, and we welcome all who share our goals. Our leadership is 100% Republican.

(original link)

Guest Opinion: Has Raul Grijalva Finally Met His Match?

By Andy Kirchoff

It’s time for another round of America’s favorite political quiz game, “Who’s that Politician?”

Blanca GuerraFor 100 points and a trip to Arizona: “This Grand Canyon State resident was one of 31 congressmen to vote to refuse to certify Ohio election results in 2004, and in 2008 was rated the most liberal congressman in the country by the National Journal. He even co-chairs the House Progressive Caucus with Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN).”

The correct answer is Rep. Raul Grijalva (minus 100 point for anyone who answered Gabrielle Giffords. She’s far more moderate in both her politics and persona). In spite of this deeply liberal worldview (and voting record to match), he has handily won re-election in his D+6 District since his first foray into Congress back in 2002. There are various reasons for his electoral success. I would speculate that part of his success is simply due to his visible contrast to the rest of the Arizona political class. In a political climate defined by the politics of immigration restriction, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is an anomaly. Rather than embrace the “stand with Arizona” motto of the tea party, he opted to organize a “big-business” boycott of the very state he represents in Congress. When SB1070 author and now former State Senator Russell Pearce (R-AZ) was pandering to neonazis and racists, Grijalva was organizing for the pro-reconquista group MEChA. If nothing else, Grijalva has been the voice of the disaffected fringe left of Arizona – such political posturing is bound to attract some political support, even as it alienates other potential allies.

A more likely (admittedly partial) explanation of Grijalva’s political success is his strong support from Veteran’s Groups. His record on veteran’s issues is indeed very commendable; he’s filed and/or supported many bills on behalf of Veterans over the years, including the popular REVAMP Act, a bill designed to repair crumbling Veteran’s facilities. Certainly, focusing constituent services on veteran’s assistance is a praiseworthy trait. Alas, “one-issue” voters do not a Republic make, and Grijalva’s attention to this issue can’t conceal his far left-of-center beliefs on other issues.

Enter Blanca Guerra, Arizona co-leader of Café Con Leche Republicans. She’s pro-immigration reform, but doesn’t embrace Rep. Grijalva’s economic extremism. She’s socially conservative with private sector experience and business acumen. She’s even able to neutralize Grijalva’s pro-veteran bona fides, as Blanca is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Grijalva’s renown and the overall partisan nature of the 7th CD will certainly be difficult to overcome. Nonetheless, Grijalva’s intemperate and ill-fated response to SB1070, when combined with his virulently left-wing ideology, could allow a Republican the opportunity to oust him from his seat. Needless to say, we’re very proud of Blanca here at CCLR, and we’d love nothing more than to see Blanca’s campaign send shockwaves throughout the Arizona political establishment. Here’s your chance, Arizona GOPers: let’s give Blanca the support she needs to win this thing!